Annual calls for the drink-drive limit to be reduced from 0.08% blood alcohol content (BAC) to 0.05% are unsupported by the evidence and data.
In December 2014 Scotland lowered the BAC limit to 0.05% in line with EU countries which have a 0.05% limit or lower. A recent study by the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) (1) concluded that: “All estimates reveal that the lower Scottish limit had no impact on any type of road accident, from fatal crashes to collisions involving just slight injuries or drink drive accidents. This evidence holds true for various subgroups of the population (e.g., young men), and whether we consider nights, weekends, and rural or urban areas.” And: “It is also the case that most drink driving accidents occur above the 0.08% threshold. This implies that policy makers should look at ways to target those who drink and drive well above such thresholds.”
The ineffectiveness of lower BAC limits is also confirmed by international studies (2) and by comparing drink-driving deaths in the EU with the UK (3), where only Germany has a significantly lower percentage of road traffic deaths involving alcohol than the UK.
ABD Spokesman Paul Biggs said: “The ABD’s continued support of the current BAC level is vindicated by the facts and it remains clear that the drink-drive problem is the result of drivers who have BAC levels well over the current 0.08% limit. What we need is better enforcement of the current limit rather than lower limits, which risk criminalising drivers who aren’t the real problem.”
The current 0.08% limit is based on the 1960s Borkenstein/Grand Rapids Study of over 5,500 drivers, which showed that accident risk climbs significantly with a BAC over 0.10%.
Notes for Readers
(1) Institute of Alcohol Studies: None for the road: Why lowering drink drive limits didn’t lower road traffic collisions:
(2) The effects of introducing or lowering legal per se blood alcohol limits for driving: an international review:
(3) Drink Driving in Great Britain: How Big is the Problem?: